The human brain was built to predict the future. If you can’t see what’s coming, you can’t survive. Tea leaves, entrails, and complicated algorithms are just a few of the ways humans have tried to divine the future for personal gain. Today on our show we have three stories about various attempts to look into the future. A Berkeley undergraduate tries to beat the racetrack, economists attempt to predict recessions, and a software that can listen to a song and predict whether it’s going to be a hit. Guess which one is the most successful, and who forgot about a couple very important variables.

Host: Charlie Mintz

Producers: Charlie Mintz, Daniel MacDougall, Bonnie Swift Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Sarah Rizk, Sam Alemayehu, Paul David, Howard Schwartz, Mike McCready, Jadena, Koji Gardiner, Eleanor Safridge Fields, Kasiana McLenaghan, Robert Mintz

Music: Koji Gardiner, Ian Burrell, Andy Seymour, Jeff Striker, Pascel, Boomsnake

URLs: Gambler’s Book Shop

Release Date: 26 February 2009

Story 1: Are you a hit?

Undergraduate researchers Sarah Rizk and Sam Alemayehu take a look at a new software that actually predicts the next big music sensation, and even take some local talent to the test. Does this mean the end of true artistic integrity and creativity?(note: this piece also aired on our “Form Follows Function” show)
image via flickr

Story 2: If I Major in Econ, Can I Tell the Future?

The recent/current financial crisis is an example of misunderstanding economic trends. However, many experts claimed to have predicted the downturn in the economy, locally and globally. By interviewing her professors, economics student Kasiana McLeneghan gets an inside perspective on what role her field can play on predicting the future trends in our global financial system.
image via flickr

Story 3: Rudimentary Computers Will Make You Money

Charlie Mintz’s dad became obsessed with horse races when he learned that some people could predict them better than others. He learns what it costs to become a master of prediction, as well as how much it can earn him. (note: the first several minutes of this story appears at the beginning of the episode, and the rest of it appears at the end of the episode)
image via flickr

UnValentine’s Day

Normally Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate coming together, but today we’re exploring the reasons people drift apart. In four stories, we explore all the reasons we fail to click. We have a story about a Stanford student who tried, and failed, to sell her eggs to an elite donation agency, an investigation into the paradoxical allure of French women, a radio play about the perils of matchmaking, and an essay on love that offers an unusual take on arranged marriages.

Host: Charlie Mintz

Producers: Charlie Mintz, Hannah Krakauer, Rachel Hamburg

Featuring: Eva Glasrud, Paula England, Harville Hendrix, Stuart Blaire and Art Tosborvorn

Music: George Pritzker, Jeff Striker, Snuffaluffagus

Video Podcast: ‘Song of a Sperm Donor’ by Emmaunel Dayan

Release Date: 12 Febrary 2009

Listen to the Full Show:

Intro Story: These Are Not Just Ordinary Eggs

One Stanford undergrad goes on a quest to sell her eggs for a price of up to $100,000. Featuring Eva.

Story 1: The Elusive Allure of the French Female

Why is it so hard to click with French women? Or… is it??? Produced by Hannah Krakauer

Story 2: So… How did you two meet?

A radio drama of matchmaking gone terribly wrong. Produced by Charlie Mintz

Story 3: Arranged Success

We take a look at American expectations for love and ask whether arranged marriages might be best, in hopes of explaining the maddening tendencies of the human heart. Produced by Stuart Blaire and Art Tosborvorn

Intro Story image via flickr | Story 1 image via cowbird | Story 2 image via flickr | Story 3 image via flickr

Questions of Travel

What happens to us when we travel? How do we get beyond the brochure (and should we)? Poets, a professor of ecology, an observer of the Malaysian meat market, and a researcher who studies sense of place work toward answers and share stories of discovery on the road.

Host: Elizabeth Bradfield

Producers: Elizabeth Bradfield, Daniel Hirsch

Featuring: Joshua Rivkin, John Evans, Laura McKee, Peter Vitousek, Nicole Ardoin, Samantha Wai, Michelle Traub, Selena Simmons-Duffin, Daniel MacDougall

Music: Volunteer Pioneer, Johnny Hwin, Natalie Dawn, Eli Herwitz, The Reiterators, and Midawe

URLs: Peter M. Vitousek, Nicole Ardoin

Release Date: 5 February 2009

Listen to the Full Show:

Story 1: Where Men Dance Wildly

We hear from three Stegner Fellows in Poetry who have lived and taught abroad. They share poems written from afar, and wrestle with how to see a foreign world without making oneself its center.

Story 2: Who’s a Tourist?

Peter Vitousek talks about bringing Stanford Students to Hawaii, and makes a compelling argument that tourism, the cheesy stuff, isn’t so bad.
image via flickr

Story 3: What’s Normal Becomes Strange

Samantha Wei guides us into the chaos of malaysia’s Pasar Pagi, and then returns to California with new eyes.
image via flickr

Story 4: Priceless People

Nicole Ardoin shares stories from her research on sense of place, and from her work as an educator on the Galapagos and the Grand Canyon.
image via flickr

Serious Fun

We all do the things we do for fun a little bit seriously. Basketball, belly dancing, or playing in a band — these all take practice and hard work to be really fun. But some people take fun more seriously than the rest of us. Some of them are just more competitive. Some of them want to expand the arena of fine art. And some of them want to re-enchant the world. This episode has stories about a historical re-enactment society that has helped professors make new discoveries about medieval warfare, video games that are becoming professional sports, and the tragic tale of a fan club so obsessed with a character from a book that they got rid of the author. And finally, Ken Kesey reads the children’s story that he took seriously enough to say, “This was my best piece of work ever.”

Host/Producer: Rachel Hamburg
Featured: Tony Ricciardi, Patrick Thill, Joshua Landy, Michael Saler, Ken Kesey, Arthur Maddox, Michael Lawrence
Music: Kevin Macleod, The Yeltsin Collective, Arthur Maddox, William McGlaughlin, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Release Date: 29 January 2009

image via Wikipedia

Listen to the Full Show:


Story 1: Competitive Gaming

We explore the emerging world of competitive gaming, a not-so-distant reality where the gamers are superstars, on par with professional athletes for their prowess in the digital arena.

Producers: Tony Ricciardi and Patrick Thill
image via Wikipedia


Story 2: When Fiction is more Significant than Fact

Sherlock Holmes uses scientific reason to work through the mazes of mystical mystery. But he isn’t real. Right? For many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s readers, this truth isn’t so easy to accept.

Producer: Rachel Hamburg
Featuring: Michael Saler
image via Wikipedia


Story 3: Ken Kesey’s “Little Tricker The Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear”

In a musically accompanied rendition of Ken Kesey’s self-acclaimed “best piece,” we find a seriously fun story of a crafty critter armed only with a good vantage point and a sly disposition.

Featuring: Ken Kesey, Arthur Maddox (composer/pianist), Steven Schuster (flute/clarinet/sax), and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center conducted by William McGlaughlin
Image via Wikipedia